Sunday, 18 September 2011

What they're earning: MLS Millionaires Revealed

The Major League Soccer Players' Union has publicised its annual salaries figures for the 2011 season.

Many were wondering just what exactly LA Galaxy were paying their new boy Robbie Keane (who recently scored his second goal), signed from Tottenham Hotspur this summer. The figures show that he is the fourth-highest earner in the division, raking in just under $3 million.

The info, released today, confirms what most people had suspected regarding the other high-rollers.

Landon Donovan comes in as fifth-highest with his $2.3 million salary, while it's Rafael Marquez, Thierry Henry and, you guessed it, David Beckham topping the wage stats this term.

The only other millionaire is Juan Pablo Angel, who was shifted to Galaxy's local rivals Chivas, to make room for Robbie Keane (as part of the 'Designated Player' rules in the MLS).

MLS Million-Earners 2011 Season:
  • DAVID BECKHAM (LA Galaxy): $5,500,000.08
  • THIERRY HENRY (New York Red Bulls): $5,000,000.04
  • RAFAEL MARQUEZ (New York Red Bulls): $4,600,000.00
  • ROBBIE KEANE (LA Galaxy): $2,917,241.40
  • LANDON DONOVAN (LA Galaxy): $2,300,000.00
  • JUAN PABLO ANGEL (Chivas USA): $1,000,000.00

It's alarming just how concentrated the money clearly is in the MLS, with Galaxy employing three of the highest-earners, and still paying some of Angel's wages (if the US football press is to be believed).

However, I do like the idea of the transparency of MLS wages for the fans to see. Some would argue that what players earn isn't the public's business, but a Premier League equivalent would make for interesting reading.

Another point to make is that everyone assumes the likes of David Beckham and co. are on similar contracts to Rooney or Tevez. His weekly wage works out at a converted rate of about £67,000 per week. This doesn't include his bonuses, but even so. Most of Man City's players would probably see that as meagre.

Sources: ESPN Soccernet, MLS Players Union

Philip Wright-Lewis

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 Remembered

MLS Blighty would like to pay our respects to those who were lost ten years ago today, in the 9/11 atrocities.

As long as Britain exists, the United States will never stand alone.

Galaxy offer Beckham new deal, as London clubs circle

In the wake of the Premier League transfer window's closure, we saw just one high-profile transatlantic move.

Robbie Keane's £3.5 million switch to LA Galaxy came seemingly out of nowhere. While David Beckham was widely rumoured to be coming back the other way, no deal was done.

But the rumour mill is never quiet for long, and just days after the window shut, Becks was being linked with Premier League new-boys, Queens Park Rangers. The former England captain's contract is due to expire at the end of this MLS season in November.

QPR were the subject of a takeover in late August by Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian tycoon. As a result of their new fortunes, they signed a handful of new players, including the outspoken Twitter-addict, Joey Barton.

Fernandes then tweeted:

"I think having someone like David in the club would be great. Was always in my thoughts. Lets see."

But as we all know, if there's some speculation to be had, Harry Redknapp just has to get in on the action. In his column for The Sun, he wrote that Becks was "worth his weight in gold.

"He'd be an asset for any club. I'd have him here, that's for sure." Beckham trained with Spurs last season (right), but didn't make a permanent move.

This morning, The Metro reports that Galaxy have offered the skipper a new one-year contract extension, worth around £5.6m, which works out at around £117k per week.

The good news for Galaxy fans is that Beckham is keen on signing, if the paper is to believed. Due to the recent birth of his daughter, Harper, it is thought the Beckhams would rather keep the family in their settled California lifestyle than dragging them back to rainy old Blighty.

Neither Spurs nor QPR would be prepared to match those wages. But as the Premier League looking more exciting than ever this season, regular first team football might well tempt Becks back.

Philip Wright-Lewis

Monday, 15 August 2011

Robbie Keane - A Man of Many Clubs

As Robbie Keane becomes the latest big name to cross the Atlantic, we take a look at one of the most interesting and expensive careers in football. We look at his past clubs, his dodgy loyalties and his future with Galaxy.

Player Profile - Robbie Keane

Age: 31

Place of birth: Dublin

Nationality: Irish

Boyhood club: Numerous

Starting his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, he moved to Coventry in 1999 for £6m. Scoring twice on his debut, he soon broke into the Irish national side and attracted attention from continental Europe.

Having spent just one year at Coventry, Marcelo Lippi of Inter Milan signed him for £13m in 2000. Things didn't go to plan, and Inter loaned him to Leeds United in the winter of the 00/01 season.

£12m made that move permanent in the summer, and Keane joined a Leeds side bursting with talent, but blighted by financial crisis. Alongside star players Lee Bowyer, Harry Kewell and Robbie Fowler, Leeds were forced to sell Keane, who joined Tottenham Hotspur for £7m.

Enjoying arguably the finest years of his career, Keane became a first-choice forward for Spurs, forging a formiddable partnership with Dimitar Berbatov. His return of 107 goals in six years attracted long-term interest from Liverpool, who spent £20m to bring him to Anfield in 2008.

Keane's finest moment for the reds was a glorious equaliser he scored at the Emirates, securing a 1-1 draw with Arsenal. But things didn't go to plan, and after falling out with Rafa Benitez, he was sold back to Spurs for around £16m in the January of the same season.

The Irishman struggled to find his pre-Liverpool form, and after loan spells to Celtic and West Ham, he found he was not in Harry Redknapp's plans for the 2011/2012 season. Sky Sports report that Spurs have accepted the £3.5m offer from LA Galaxy...

Which, by my reckoning, takes his total expenditure to date up to: £77.5m

_ _ _ _ _

Keane - a Galaxy fan since birth?

Probably not, but I wouldn't put it past him.

Robbie is a well-liked player in England, due to his work-rate and all-round good attitude. But his comments when joining clubs recently have earnt him ridicule.

On joining Liverpool in 2008: "I've been a Liverpool fan all my life, going back to when I was a kid growing up in Dublin, and I always had a Liverpool shirt on my back. So, to be here now as a Liverpool player is incredible and I couldn't be happier."

On joining Celtic in 2010: "The club is brilliant. I am a Celtic fan and did not have to ask much about it. I always wanted to play for Celtic."

Of course as a fan, it's nice to hear your new marquee signing express his undying loyalty to your club when he signs. Fans on both sides of the Atlantic will now be waiting to hear how long Keane's been wanting to play for the Galaxy.

_ _ _ _ _

What can LA Galaxy expect from Robbie Keane?

As mentioned earlier, Robbie Keane is a work-horse who always gets the fans on-side by running his legs off in every game.

At Tottenham this worked perfectly alongside the lethargic skill possessed by his partner, Dimi Berbatov (right). Keane would work off Berbatov's scraps and played the part of the quick little man.

But he just couldn't fit into the Liverpool system. Fernando Torres could regularly be seen to be less than pleased after Keane would quite literally get under the Spaniard's feet, often preventing goal-scoring opportunities. His effort was never in doubt though, and Liverpool fans were sad and confused to see him leave.

Most recently, Keane scored 2 goals in 9 appearances at West Ham, who soon succumbed to relegation.

Keane will score goals for the Galaxy, that's for sure (and hopefully, revive his trademark celebration). Although they currently sit at the top of the league, five points clear of Dallas, they have only scored 35 goals so far (with Juan Pablo Angel's miserable contribution being a solitary 1).

Fourth-placed Colorado Rapids have scored more than LA Galaxy, who will definitely benefit from the talent of Robbie Keane, even if his fitness (and his loyalty) isn't at 100%.

This is definitely a coup for the club, and although he won't be as high-profile as Becks, he could well prove to be a more important player. As a son of the Republic, at least he won't be expected to miss games for Royal Weddings and such. I predict he will be a hit in the MLS, and wish him the best.

Philip Wright-Lewis

Robbie Keane to join LA Galaxy!

Well this is a bit unexpected!

Irish journeyman Robbie Keane is set to join LA Galaxy for a rumoured £3.5m.

The MLS transfer window slammed shut at 5am UK time this morning, but all parties involved are hoping he can squeeze through without breaking the rules.

The 31-year-old striker was given the choice between big-spending Leicester City and Los Angeles Galaxy, but has opted to leave England in favour of the latter.

Former-England gaffer, Sven Goran-Eriksson, has admitted defeat.

"I saw in the papers that Robbie Keane is going to play with David Beckham," he told the Leicester Mercury. "If that is right, it is difficult to compete.

"We can compete with Championship clubs but, when a player decides to go to the Premier League or if it is right Keane is going to LA, it is difficult."

If this transfer goes through, almost £80m will have been spent accumulatively on Keane, who had a short spell at Liverpool in 2008.

Juan-Pablo Angel is likely to exit the Galaxy to make room for Keane's arrival. The Colombian has been disappointing for the California club, and under MLS rules, only three players are allowed to earn above the wage cap - the other two being Beckham and Donovan.

The one-time Villa striker should join Philadelphia Union, if -once again - the clubs can manage to bend the rules of the transfer window.

Philip Wright-Lewis

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Manchester United 6 - 0 New York Cosmos: Match Report by Kevin Kirrane

Manchester United ran out comfortable winners on Friday as Old Trafford said farewell to a legend and ushered in the resurrection of the New York Cosmos with a goal fest.

A capacity crowd at the Paul Scholes Testimonial match saw the English champions score six against a Cosmos side boasting distinguished football veterans as well as a few of their own academy players. The young academy players making their first appearance on the big stage will certainly have learnt a valuable lesson as the United players turned on the style as they cruised to victory.

Before kick-off all the pubs around Old Trafford were filled with United fans singing Paul Scholes
songs and reminiscing on highlights of his extraordinary career, but there was also a great deal of intrigue and excitement about seeing the rebirth of the New York side. Red of course was the dominant colour in the capacity crowd but there were plenty of white and green to be found
amongst the 76,000 spectators (see left, below) as Manchester welcomed back Eric Cantona and his side into the world of football.

Within 8 minutes, the crowd were given what they came for. From 30 yards out, Scholes fired a trademark 30 yard shot past Brad Friedel and into the top corner to put United 1-0 up, just as he’d done throughout his 17 year career at Old Trafford.

United then doubled their lead after Ashley Young had been clumsily brought down in the box by Iraheta. The fans were calling for Scholes to get his second goal of the night, but the ever modest midfielder stood back and let Rooney fire the penalty in off the bar to make it 2-0.

The Cosmos then began to get into the game a bit more with some of their own players quietly impressing. Iraheta began to control the play as the game progressed, often starting attacks by keeping possession and getting the ball forward to Dwight Yorke and Robbie Keane. United still pressed forward and were only prevented from making it 3-0 before half time thanks to some excellent defending from Yanik Reyering, who produced a stunning block on Wayne Rooney just before the break.

In the second half, Anderson scored United’s third after some incisive one touch play with Welbeck, who went on to make it 4-0 to the English champions after Cosmos failed to get rid of the ball in the box. Cosmos under-23 keeper Chad Calderone will be disappointed by United’s fifth goal, as Mame Diouf squeezed a shot through the legs of the anguished goalkeeper, and Diouf went on to get his second and United’s sixth just before full time.

Despite the one sided scoreline, the Cosmos played much better in the second half, thanks mainly to the introduction of former Arsenal and Man City midfielder Patrick Vieira. However the best chance of the night for Cosmos, however, fell to their Bulgarian striker Stefan Dimitrov. Wayne Bridge whipped in a great cross to the far post but Dimitrov headed wide, despite being unmarked and making a great connection with the header.

If any Cosmos player deserved a goal on the night, it was Stefan Dimitrov. The former Chicago Fire striker displayed some great hold up play as the lone striker and worked tirelessly up front to keep possession for the New Yorkers. He will be disappointed with the header but his all round performance was very encouraging for the Cosmos, as was that of Yanik Reyering whose defensive heroics prevented United from scoring even more.

It was very much a baptism of fire for the reformed side but the early signs are encouraging for the Cosmos and they will certainly have learnt a lot from the defeat. It is early days but as the curtain fell on Paul Scholes’s glittering career, the exhibition game at Old Trafford showed that behind the scenes, the Cosmos are moving in the right direction and could certainly have an impact on the MLS when their resurrection is complete in 2013.

Kevin Kirrane


Many thanks to Kev for his report and photographs.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Cannavaro to captain the Cosmos

Fabio Cannavaro will wear the captain's arm-band in the New York Cosmos first game back since their rebirth, in Paul Scholes' testimonial.

The 37-year old centre-half led Italy to become FIFA World Champions in 2006.

He'll lead a team made up of ex-Premier League stars that also includes some of the new Under-23's squad of the Cosmos.

Former team-mates Nicky Butt and Gary Neville will also be playing in the green and white of the Cosmos, joined by familiar faces including Patrick Vieira, Michel Salgado and Robbie Keane.

For prospective Cosmos fans, this will be an exciting chance to see their kids having a run-out on the Old Trafford surface, with people like Ibrahim Diaby, Dane Murphy and Marvin Iraheta making their first official appearances for their club - which hopes to join the MLS in the next couple of years.

Fulham legend Brian McBride also has a spot in the line-up, which will no doubt be involved in an enjoyable occasion in Manchester next month.

Tickets are still available.

Philip Wright-Lewis